Harley Benton PB-20 BK Standard Series

Electric Bass

  • Body: Poplar
  • Bolt-on neck: Maple
  • Fretboard: Amaranth
  • Dot-inlays
  • Neck profile: Modern C
  • 20 Frets
  • Scale: 864 mm
  • Nut width: 42 mm
  • Dual action truss rod
  • 1 PB style pickup
  • 1 Volume knob and 1 tone knob
  • Hardware: Chrome
  • Classic PB-Style machine heads
  • String thickness: 045 - 105
  • Colour: Black high gloss
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  • Jazz
  • Rock
  • Rhythm & Blues

Further Information

Colour Black
Soundboard Basswood
Neck Maple
Fretboard Amaranth
Frets 20
Scale Long Scale
Pickup System P
Elektronic Passive
Incl. Case No
Incl. Gigbag No

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349 written ratings Read all reviews
Total
features
sound
quality
Decent but problematic
Antonis Y., 22.11.2019
Let me preface the whole review by saying that, unless you can do a few jobs/repairs on the instrument yourself, get something that might have better quality control. I've been playing and setting up instruments for some odd 20 years now and I can certainly do most repairs and boy, this instrument needed quite a lot.

Starting off, the bass isn't bad. Right off the bat I checked if the truss rod was working and the truss rod nut was ok and not stripped, since I had that happen and you're going to have a bad day with that!
Everything seemed fine as far as first impressions go.

Now the cons/bad stuff/repairs that needed to be done, and let's start from the easier stuff.

First off, the strings that come stock are just plain horrible and don't do justice to the instrument. Better strings right away will definitely help.

Second, the pickup. This a ceramic split coil, not wound too hot but is quite harsh and very modern sounding. Bad thing is, it is too mid scooped and won't get the traditional P tone. However, that said, the bass is controlled and doesn't muddy up the sound and, while the treble is really harsh, it can be tamed to a beautiful result. Still, with the mids virtually non-existent, I will be changing the pickup as soon as possible. It's certainly not bad but it's not the classic P tone.

Another problem with the pickup is that it's completely anemic. Even when put the closest it can get to the strings, it's still very, very weak. And if you get it too close to the strings you get spikes/artifacts on every attack, which isn't really usable. To remedy that, until I can change it, I added ceramic bar magnets underneath the pickups. That, at least, gave it the much needed volume. But I will certainly be changing the pickup in the future.

As a little note, the pickup's screwed very wonky in there and the holes are kinda misaligned.

While speaking of the pickup, the cavity seems to be painted with some black paint. At first I thought it was conductive but, after checking with a multimeter for continuity, it is not. Which is weird, because there is a screw under there that's grounded to the back of a pot. Apparently they thought it was conductive but it certainly doesn't give any continuity readings whatsoever, I checked every spot in there.

I also found a few dents and chips on the bass.

A small detail. The fretboard was very dry. It immediately needed some lemon oil, which it soaked up very fast. Keep that in mind.

For the more bad stuff now. When trying to set it up, I found the neck pocket's too deep and needed a shim. When I removed the neck to install a shim, I found a small shim already there and a spot in the neck pocket where it was over-routed. You could clearly even make out the size of the router head used. That was certainly bad.

The neck screws were also misaligned but thankfully, this doesn't seem to affect anything and the neck and bridge are all aligned fine. No need to fill and redrill, thankfully.

The nut also was very crudely cut and the slots needed to be rounded with a small file and some graphite put in there for the strings not to bind.

Apart from that, the pickguard and the neck pocket were too tight towards the top, which made deep indentations in the neck, right below the fretboard. This is just bad quality control, instruments with flaws like that shouldn't make it out of the factory, considering there are people who can't do these jobs themselves and they can get costly, or even worse, they won't be ever discovered and you'll be playing a very badly set up instrument.

Now for the pros.

I got this bass expecting to have to do a fretjob. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. After going at it with a straight edge and a fret rocker, there are no high frets. They frets aren't crowned that well but they're ok. There was also no fret sprout.

The finish, apart from some paint chipping and dents under the pickguard and around the neck pocket was fine.

The fretboard, while very dry, has a very nice grain on it. After oiling, it shows a lot better and it's quite beautiful. I don't know what kind of amaranth wood this is (amaranth is purpleheart but this was too dark) but it's nice.

The tuners work fine, although they had some kind of plastic residue stuck and I had to disassemble them and grease them for them not to bind.
The nut, while badly cut, was at least cut with the right height. Although this, after putting a shim in the neck pocket.

All in all, it's the cheapest instrument you can get and if you can do these repairs (if they are indeed reparable) then you get a nice enough instrument. If I was buying again, I'd wait until I had more money and buy something better myself.
After repairing all the aforementioned, the bass does play really well but again, it needed a lot of work to get there and, considering the price, I doubt many newbies can do these repairs.
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Total
features
sound
quality
BANG for the buck!
21.02.2017
Little did I expect perfection from a bass guitar of this price!

I'm almost done with recording my upcoming album and the sound this bass makes, really sings!!

I must admit, I was indeed sceptical of how this would sound but now I realise for such a low price, this bass guitar is truly ahead of it's time - and that's all thanks to the legendary Musikhaus Thomann efficiency and quality!

At the risk of annoying customers: HOW CAN YOU SELL THIS FOR SUCH A GREAT PRICE?! It's worth more than I could put into words - and the bassist in my live touring band agrees!

The clarity and dynamics of every note is unbelievable and it's as if this beast of a bass is permanently EQ'd to perfection; there's the lows that can cause an earthquake, the mids that'll tear right through you and the high-end spank that you can slap with; oh and I forgot to mention, the setup of the Harley Benton PB-20 BK Standard Series is something I am in awe of!

Please, Thomann, PLEASE KEEP THE PRODUCTION OF THIS BASS GOING! :D

As a guitar player, I know what I'm looking at and through experience; I find that my eye is subconsciously trained to notice quality control, imperfections & shortcuts and yet, Musikhaus Thomann have perfected a wonderful instrument that is both versatile and incredibly musical, without ANY problems!

I promise you will not be disappointed in the slightest with this fine art of a bass guitar; you would be WRONG not to want one!!

By all means, test out and trial any bass guitar, and somehow you will find yourself running back to THIS bass guitar - it's truly a masterpiece!

Thank you, for such a wonderful instrument!!
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